Thursday, 20 March 2014

Far Too Close For Comfort

This is a personal message to the lorry driver that overtook me the other day at great speed and far too close. As you can see from the video the oncoming traffic was also forced over into the gutter to avoid the oncoming lorry, this kind of driving is just inexcusable.

There is no doubt in my mind that all it would have taken would have been a pothole or a wobble and I would have been killed or very badly injured.

As you can see from the article below pothole related fatalities are all too common and combined with this kind of inconsiderate driving the odds seem to be increasingly stacked against the cyclist.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Latest Chroma Key Experiment

Still continuing with my experiments trying to get the best I can out of this very simple single light setup. It seems that as long as the movement in the background video clip does not involve all of the frame the video will still play well and retain facial detail when uploaded to and processed by YouTube.

The chroma key was performed with simple small green screen and single light located above the video camera at about 30 degrees. In this clip I experimented with altering the background "focus" using a changing gaussian blur on a low setting to try to give the impression of a shallower camera depth of field. I think the best "depth of field" effect is achieved with a very small degree of background blur but it seems to work nicely if the shot starts and finishes fully sharp.

I also experimented on this clip with a shape mask on the subject's face to slightly alter the colour without changing the rest of the scene. The video is best watched on YouTube at either 720p or 1080p.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Chroma Key & YouTube - Movement in Background Clips

I have been doing quite a bit of experimentation with chroma keying in Final Cut Pro X and I have been uploading the results of my experiments to YouTube. The first video I uploaded was a simple video of my talking head and I used a segment of cycling video shot in Majorca as the backdrop. Having selected a 30 second clip to use which was shot in front of a cheap green screen I removed the background in Final Cut Pro X, added the cycling background and produced a short master file.

Even this short file was pretty large so I compressed it using Apple Compressor down to a manageable size, the resulting file was an MP4 file, ideal for uploading to YouTube. Both the master file and the compressed file played perfectly well and the detail in the subjects face was well maintained in both these files.

I uploaded this file to YouTube and I was disappointed when I viewed the file to see that a lot of processing artefacts were visible and the quality of the video was greatly degraded in comparison to the master file and the compressed file that had been uploaded, the video is shown below:

Having reviewed this video I thought that the problem might be something to do with the settings I had used in the file compression process so I tried a number of different options to improve things but all of my efforts were in vain. The resulting videos were perfectly Ok until I uploaded them to YouTube, once YouTube processed them for display the results were poor.

After much thought I wondered whether the degradation was being caused by the degree of overall movement in the frame and whether this was in some way having an impact on the quality, possibly as a result of bitrate restrictions on the material in terms of the YouTube processing scheme. Anyway, the way to try this out seemed to be to keep everything the same but just to replace the background with a static image which is what I did. The results are below and the quality difference is startling. Again the settings for generating the master file and the compression settings to produce the MP4 file for upload were unchanged.

The next thing to try was to see whether a background image containing some movement could be used without degrading things seriously so I again replaced the background, this time with a scene from Switzerland where the landscape itself remained static but there was quite a bit of movement within the frame, in this case a band of school children passing by. As you can see below the quality was maintained as long as the majority of the scene was static.

So, those were my little experiments. From the above I have concluded that if the destination of a video is YouTube and if a chroma key technique has been used the final online results will be better if the majority of the background material is generally static and that backgrounds where all of the scene is in motion should be avoided. The differences between the above videos are still more apparent when viewed in the larger player on YouTube.

I'm no expert for sure but that's how it looks to me!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Final Cut Pro X - Chroma Keying

I decided recently to go back and have another go at the chroma key technique for replacing the backgrounds on video in an effort to make some of the bits and bobs I produce look a bit more interesting and also to make further use of some of the clips I have taken over the years as background material.

My plan was to keep it as simple as possible and I've just used a relatively small piece of green material as a backdrop (head and shoulders only at present) and a single soft light on a stand which is facing directly at me and is just above the video camera.

I know this isn't the ideal or "recommended" setup for really top quality chroma keying but I don't have the space, time or spare money to go down the route of a really posh setup so just wanted something cheap, cheerful and above all portable to allow me to at least experiment with this technique to see how I might make best use of it.

Anyway, I seem to have got it to work Ok, my first experiment is below.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

WireCast for YouTube Trial


I have no idea if this will be of any interest to anyone but I've been experimenting with some software called WireCast for YouTube which allows you to broadcast live on your YouTube channel rather than using the likes of UStream, it just seemed as if it would be a nice option to keep everything all in one place.

At the moment because of bandwidth restrictions I can only broadcast live at 360 resolution but I thought I would give it a try. I'd appreciate any feedback on this, I just want to see if I can make it work with still, video, audio and a webcam. I have scheduled a LIVE broadcast at 21:00 this evening, I'll aim to start on time. All you have to do is go to my YouTube channel at 21:00 GMT, I plan to show a bit of cycling footage from my DashWare experiments and just talk a bit, show a few pictures and make a LIVE webcam appearance.

Even if just a couple of people pop in and let me know if it actually works I'd appreciate it and any feedback would be great, I hope to improve the quality over time once I have a fibre optic Internet connection :-) See you at 21:00 if you can spare a moment, I plan to be live for less than 10 minutes.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel, as you will see, at the moment it shows that there is a scheduled event for 21:00.

Well, the broadcast went ahead and here is the recording, very compressed for streaming but it was just a system trial, apologies for the 20 seconds of music at the start!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Another Day Another Carve-Up

I just don't know what it is that some motorists find so difficult about treating vulnerable road users with some respect and why they can't treat people with some consideration.

Just another example from my ride today of a motorist who just couldn't give a $hit.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Cornering on a Bicycle

Been doing some messing about with video clips to try to get the best SloMo I can and am pretty pleased with this clip, could almost have come off a proper high speed camera. Best viewed on YouTube in HD with the larger player.